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Great Balls of Fire

As International Space Station (ISS) Commander Chris Hadfield steps down, we have gathered together some of our favourite pictures that the astronaut took of our planet from space.

Although it is not safe for any one person to remain in space for too long, it's with a sad sniffle that we see Canadian-born Commander Chris Hadfield hand over his role on the ISS. The station commander rapidly became a beloved figure to us Earthbound folks, sharing freely his life aboard the station via a series of informative — and engaging — YouTube videos and Reddit Ask me Anything sessions.

We also very much enjoyed opening his Twitter feed every day, not only for regular updates on the ISS, but for the beautiful pictures he's taken of the Earth, giving us a view of geological phenomena and human habitation rarely glimpsed — as well as a small sense of a phenomenon usually only experienced by astronauts. Called the "overview effect", it is a feeling of wonder, awe and love experienced by astronauts when viewing the Earth from space.

Hadfield has already handed command over to his successor, Russian cosmonaut Pavel Vinogradov, and is due to return to Earth.

If you want to browse all of former Commander Hadfield's space photos, you can check them out on his Twitter feed and his Tumblr page. We've collected a few of our favourites in the gallery below.

The sun, seen without the filter of the Earth's atmosphere.

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Rock On

The beautiful Canadian Rockies.

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Just Another Night

The coast of Florida, US, at dawn beyond the ISS.

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A Hard Rain's a-Gonna fall

A swirling storm builds just off the Irish coast.

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Cold As Ice

Seen from space, the slow crawl of glacial flow becomes more visible.

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Going back to the border

The clear demarcation of the US-Mexico border. Mexico is on the left.

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New Horizons

Commander Hadfield called this: "A view to put the mind at ease."

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Far Above the Clouds

The south of UK.

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Big City Nights

Cities in north-central England at night, illuminated by lights.

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It's a marvellous night for a moon dance

The moon sets, a sight seen 16 times a day on the ISS. Somehow, it never gets old.

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Dust in the Wind

The starkness of the Saudi Arabian desert.

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Hot Lava

Long-dead volcanoes left their pocked and bubbled mark on Saudi Arabia.

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Rocky Mountain High

Clouds clustered around a high mountain top.

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No Line on the Horizon

Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

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From the Clouds

Disturbances in the clouds over the Pacific ocean.

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Dubai State of Mind

Dubai at night, with Palm Jumeirah clearly outlined just off the coast.

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Rock of Ages

The natural Richat Structure rock formation in the Mauritanian Sahara.

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Island in the Sun

The Galapagos Islands shimmering in the sunlight.

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I Wanna Rock

Sand and wind erosion expose striations in the Saharan bedrock.

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The sea is frozen

Icy swirls in the frozen seas off the northern coast of Japan.

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Islands in the Stream

An atoll in the waters around Indonesia. From space, it looks a bit like a snail.

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Many Rivers to Cross

Sunlight turning a system of rivers into what looks like liquid silver.

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Somewhere in Sydney

Sydney and its suburbs stretching out into the night.

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Great Southern Land

The Australian outback, Commander Hadfield said, is like a series of cave paintings.

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We Will Rock You

More of the outback. This time, stone formations pushing up through the desert.

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Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

Smoke from the 2013 January bushfires as seen from space, showing the extent of their effect on our country.

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Smoke From a Distant Fire

The smoke from just one fire during the 2013 January bushfires.

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Dry Lake Bed

A dried-up lake in the middle of the outback, white with salt.

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For Those About To Rock

Commander Hadfield said that the Australian outback "looks like somebody spilled something on it". Our money's on Pro Hart.

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King Volcano

The active Mount Taranaki volcano in New Zealand looks like a perfect circle.

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